If you thought music festivals were crazy expensive, just think of how cash-strapped the talent feels.
When Digital Music News released this foreboding infographic in 2010, musicians were well aware they faced an uphill battle trying to get paid. Things have improved since then, but the emergence of Spotify and similar streaming formats has made it all but impossible for indie and DIY artists to see much of a payout. Even major label artists don’t get much of a cut unless they’re a superstar (or have a last name that rhymes with Rihanna).
With help from industry attorney Steve Gordon and a depressing interview with Chuck D, whose lawyers admitted the rapper barely sees a cent from his ringtones or downloads, Digital Music News revamped its graphic to show just what artists have to do to earn a monthly U.S. minimum wage of $1,160.
Their findings aren’t pretty. A solo artist hoping to break even would need to sell 1,706 MP3 downloads in a month or 2,230 CDs on a major label. And they’d probably need to press vinyl, which for all its analogue glory still happens to sell rather well among fans. A self-pressed LP priced at $14.99, for example, could be the ticket to payday if the artist sold 149 of them.